Nigeria will begin the operation of a new national air carrier in the first quarter of 2022, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, announced Wednesday.

Mr Sirika said this while speaking to journalists after the Federal Executive Council presided by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja.

“In this 2021, we will try to do all the needful and probably we intend to start operations somewhere around first quarter 2022,” he said.

He said the emergence of COVID-19 delayed the conclusion of plans as well as the takeoff of the project which he said the federal government is still committed to.

He said the aviation ministry will submit a proposal to the council in two weeks.

Mr Sirika said the national carrier was expected to take off initially this year, as an economic necessity for the country with the size of the population, the vantage geographical location, and other natural factors.

“It is still in top gear, we are coming back to Council, hopefully within the next two weeks, to present the memo on the national carrier,” he said.

“We went to Council to approve the outline business case for the carrier and then the Council raised some questions and asked us to go and file the memo again and bring it back.

“So, once it comes back and the outline business case is approved by Council, then, of course, we will now go to the full business case, which is now going to the market and then establishing the national carrier.

“It was our intention to have a national carrier running in 2021, which is this year. Unfortunately due to COVID, which took the greater part of last year, since March last year, activities are almost impossible.

“Of course, for obvious reasons, we now have access to equipment, that they will come faster to us, deliveries of the aircraft will be faster, perhaps even the rates might be cheaper and so on, and so forth.”

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